Persona 4 in one week: Day 3

Video update:

The recording program crashed this morning. In trying to transcode a nearly eight hour session I pulled starting last night and running into early this morning, it crashed about two hours into the process after the full session had taken place. After finally getting to sleep and staying away from the computer for most of the day today, I haven’t gone back to try the process again.

I wrote yesterday I would give it another day, and I still probably will, but I’m increasingly convinced I may have to just delete the files after all this time spent making them because they are simply too big to process and thus ultimately upload somewhere else. Given that the first day, around seven hours of video, is 42 GBs in size, I imagine the second day’s will be more, should it ever finally be transcoded. And that is not including whatever I capture when I start playing tonight either.

Day 2 Recap:

Fury. Eventually, sound.

Something that has really impacted this whole experience is the delay between when a sound plays in the game and when I eventually hear it. Because I am using a monitor as a “TV” (my normal setup, actually), I haven’t had the ability to hear things in real time. The RCA output is running through a USB device, which is then in turn filtered through software, and introduces a slight, but often noticeable, delay in delivery.

Added to this is the age of my computer. It isn’t the latest — never really was — and, as the capture software runs, it gets farther behind the “live” feed. For a little while, it is only seconds, but the longer I record, the more this increases. Until, at some point early this morning, I was hearing sounds up to an hour after they first played in the game.

It makes the whole thing, as you might imagine, very strange. I am more-or-less playing a game silently and then hearing the reactions, even though my speakers are tuned down, often minutes later.

Kanji’s Bathhouse

The main section I played through this session was the lead up to and rescuing of Kanji. It remains, even after playing through it twice now, both one of the better and probably worse representations of how this game treats queer characters.

The presentation of Kanji as a “shadow self” is played up, as gay characters often are in Japanese mainstream culture, as “perverted” and, as mentioned many times before Kanji is taken, “odd,” “weird,” and as having a “complex.” Everything leading up finally finding Kanji, including the boss battle itself, is in tune with this approach. Kanji’s mental state and place is society is constantly questioned.

Then comes the big reveal. Even though he rejects the “shadow” side of him initially, as part of queuing the battle itself, Kanji is quick admit that he has known all along about that side of himself afterwards. He may have been repressing it, but he is aware of those feelings and desires — even if he often overcompensates for them by acting aggressive. It is other people, he notes, who label him as different and “odd.” To him, it is just his life.

Of course, as soon as this refreshing take on queer characters has its moment, the whole thing is swept under by repositioning the whole repression angle, and by connection his homosexuality, by saying that he just wants “people to like him.” This “complex,” the game presents, came up as a result of him “hating girls” and “enjoying the company of boys.” It was not his body, but surroundings of being the son of the owners and working in a textile shop which have made him feminine in nature.

(Neat side thing here. While playing, I kept thinking Kanji was voiced by Nolan North. Turns out, Tory Baker!)

Gimme Shelter

If I don’t get some shelter[s]
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

Okay, so, I nearly named this section “Fans of the Genre” because I kept thinking, as I spent a couple of hours running around in its dungeons looking for the stairs for the next area, that I really “miss” the ability to restore HP and SP at save points. Having played through Crono Cross recently and currently playing Crono Trigger as I play Persona 4, I’ve been wanting what those games, and many others in the genre have, an item that acts as a restorative to both health and magic points.

As far as I can tell, and admittedly I am not as read up on the Persona lore as others, I can’t figure out how to do that other than to just leave the dungeons or pay the Fox a huge amount of money. There doesn’t seem, and maybe I am misremembering Persona 3, the ability to leave, heal, and then come back to explore more. I really want that, though.

Like, a Roguelike lite

I have come to the conclusion that the Persona series are more Roguelike than RPG. That is, most of the time you are managing resources like health and spirit points in direct connection to the risks you are taking on in exploring more and engaging in battles. It is much less about the levels of your characters and much more a constant balance between risk versus reward of going that little more more into its depths.

Maybe, like I mention in the above section, that is just me misremembering my time with Persona 3, but I thought I spent a great deal more time mixing personas together and plotting strategy than I seem to be going in this game. Instead of buying items, equipping gear, and then battling through a section, I seem to be floundering more and constantly running towards the stairs and a way out of whatever level or hallway I seem to be in at the moment.

That’s another thing that has been annoying me too. While I do like the randomness factor of levels that change between visits, it also means I spend a large amount of time running around in circles looking for an exit and not getting much done. They are, the more I compare what I am investing time-wise in this game versus my other options for spending my personal time while on winter break, things that are “wasted” moments for me. I don’t want to spend an hour in one area just fighting battles in this game.

Even though I don’t always like the dialogue, social links, and the “You decide” mechanics, I do find some enjoyment in the good voice acting (when I hear it) and getting to know the characters more. I like the times when the social links “bridge” between them and different characters mix across groups. It’s much more natural than I remember the silos of people in Persona 3.

It is the dungeons and the seemingly endless fighting that are really wearing me down mentally though. The third or fourth encounter with the same group of enemies is just boring. And the settings — perhaps reduced so that the game could fit on the disc? — don’t help much either. After the first few minutes in a new one, I have already grown bored with their aesthetics. After eight floors of them looking the same and me getting lost frequently, ugh, it’s just too much.

2 thoughts on “Persona 4 in one week: Day 3

  1. I played through Persona 4 on “very easy” so I could get through the dungeons and enjoy the social links part. I don’t regret it, although it does make me feel like a pansy.

    1. Dan Cox

      Yeah, I’m doing the same thing, playing on “Beginner.” (Did for Persona 3 too.)

      The older I get, the more I just don’t care — try not to care anyway — about the difficulty level of games like this. I like the Persona games, and others like Disgaea too, but this time investment is just driving me crazy.

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